Malami decries hate speech in public space

The Minister of , Abubakar Malami, has decried the level of acrimony and slander that currently dominate the nation’s social space.

He made this known during a town hall at a meeting in Abuja on “Social and anti-Hate Speech Bills” organised Daar Communications PLC.

Malami was represented his Special Adviser on and Publicity Umar Gwandu.

According to him, Nigeria needed the social media more in the areas of enhancing national unity, patriotism, human capacity development including entrepreneurial skills and not for tearing the nation apart.

“The rate at which the proliferation of acrimony and vilifying statements dominate the social media space alarming.

“The consequence of which will dangerous. No society will fold its arm and allow such ominous crime to go unchecked,” he said.

He, however, said that the media had tried vigorously in the entrenchment of democratic governance and had been instrumental in the process of ensuring good governance through the fight against corruption and upholding the rule of law in line with Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.

“Nigeria operates a democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enables Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions.

” No doubt, recent developments where Nigerians freely articulate varied view points on numerous national issues are clear testimonies to the commitment of the Federal Government with the doctrine of freedom of expression.”

The attorney-general further said that with the absence of gate-keeping processes of the conventional media, individuals with neither the skills of information verification nor the of what the reality was had taken it upon their selves to the purveyors of fake news, hatred and animosity.

“Some turn the platforms into avenues for committing heinous internet fraud and cybercrime.”

Declaring the forum open, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that the issues had become topical because of the new realities.

“The realities have come because of the fresh gains in media and information technologies.”

He said that the initiative of Daar Communication was to contribute to a national or even a global conversation, on how to solve the problem of hate speech and fake news.

“The expected input supposedly to enrich the knowledge space and provide a pathway unraveling the controversy.

“Like I have always said, this 9th National Assembly open to ideas. Good policy directions and decisions come through a rigorous process of debate, and with participation all shades of opinion.

“Shutting down views, or making assumptions on what people will say or might not say, is not a good way to expand the range of thoughts and argument that could form part of the decision making process,” Lawan said.

Speaking earlier, Daar Communications Mr Raymond Dokpesi (Jnr) said that the forum was aimed at contributing to a wider understanding of the concept of two bills before the National Assembly.

The bills are the Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill or the Fake News Bill and a bill for an Act to Provide for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches and other related matters otherwise known as the Hate Speech Bill collectively referred to as the anti-social media bills.

Dokpesi said that there was no doubt that fake news and hate speech on both traditional and digital media were phenomena which could not ignored and had to addressed.

“So we are here today because the laws before the National Assembly, if passed, will impact on the balance of power between the people and the state.” ()